Thamanat to talk Prayut with 'G16'
Move seen as new attempt to unseat PM
The secretary-general of the Setthakij Thai Party, Thamanat Prompow, has agreed to meet representatives of small political parties over dinner in about two weeks to discuss Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's alleged mishandling of the economy.
According to deputy Pheu Thai leader, Yuttapong Charasathien on Monday, Capt Thamanat will meet the so-called "Group of 16" on May 23. The group had recently held two similar meetings, first with Pichet Sathirachawal, a Palang Pracharath Party MP, and Manoon Siwapiromrat, the leader of the New Economics Party.
The move is seen by some political observers as the beginning of a new attempt to unseat Gen Prayut through a fresh no-confidence motion.
Mr Yuttapong said the group will discuss Gen Prayut's failure in managing the economy, which he said is in free fall.
"One example [of such mismanagement] is his decision to appoint Wichak Aphiraknanchai, an inspector with the Ministry of Finance, to lead the investigation against [Deputy Finance Minister] Santi Promphat in relation to the 25-billion-baht water pipeline project in the Eastern Economic Corridor," he said.
"How on earth could a ministerial inspector effectively probe a deputy minister of the same ministry?" he added, noting the opposition "will definitely include this issue" on the list of topics for the coming no-confidence debate.
Meanwhile, Wit Devahastin na Ayudhya, leader of Setthakij Thai Party, played down the importance of the planned meeting, saying it could simply be a normal reunion between former colleagues.
Capt Thamanat was a Pheu Thai member before he defected to the PPRP.
After all, he said, Capt Thamanat will still have to follow his party's formal resolution, not his own opinion, when making any major political moves.
Gen Wit also said his party intends to pressure the government into handling the nation's economic problems better.
When asked if there will be a big surprise in political circles ahead of the no-confidence debate, he said: "No such surprises will come… But we can never really be certain of anything when it comes to politics. Who knows?"
Separately, former finance minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala said he has yet to decide whether or not he will join the Thai Economic Party.